FALSE: Aquino signed premium contribution hike for OFWs

Claim: Former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino signed the law that mandates overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to pay 3% of their salary to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) as premium contributions.

YouTube channel Its JL posted a video on May 4 titled, “3% pirmado ni Aquino, Hontiveros, panahon ng dilawan 5/5 (signed by Aquino, Hontiveros, during the time of the yellows).”

Noong Aquino administration sinimulan ang UHC (Universal Health Care) at pinirmahan ni Noynoy kasama si Risa Hontiveros at [Leila] De Lima atbp. (It was during the Aquino administration when the UHC was started and was signed by Noynoy, together with Risa Hontiveros, Leila De Lima, etc.),” the video said.

The video was 11 minutes and 36 seconds long. It had 2,676 views as of writing.

A reader sent the video to Rappler for verification. Facebook Claim Check also flagged the video for fact checkers to verify.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act, which had the provision for the increase in premium from 2.75% of a contributor's salary in 2019 to 3% in 2020. The PhilHealth circular that defined the specific guidelines for OFWs was signed by its president and CEO Ricardo Morales.

Meanwhile, Aquino signed Republic Act 10606 in 2013 which amended the National Health Insurance Act of 1995, but the hike in premium contributions was not yet completely defined in this law. In section 28, the law said that an “equitable and progressive contribution schedule” is to be determined by PhilHealth “on the basis of applicable actuarial studies.”

The schedule of premium contributions of direct contributors was defined in section 10 of the Universal Health Care Act signed by Duterte on February 20, 2019. The premium rate is adjusted per year from 2.75% in 2019 to 5% in 2025. “Migrant workers” are part of direct contributors under section 4 of the law.

The same premium schedule is available in its implementing rules and regulations, which Health Secretary Francisco Duque III signed on October 10, 2019. 

On April 2, 2020, PhilHealth issued Circular No. 2020-0014 “to have a uniform understanding on the implementation of the collection of premium contributions for OFWs.” PhilHealth said payment and remittance of premium contributions were mandatory, but these were later suspended temporarily after the announcement drew flak. (READ: After OFW rate hike draws ire, PhilHealth suspends collections)

The Universal Health Care Act was sponsored by senators Joseph Victor Ejercito and Ralph Recto in the Senate. Other co-authors were Vicente Sotto III, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Franklin Drilon, Nancy Binay, De Lima, Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara, Hontiveros, Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Manny Pacquiao. (READ: Who should be credited for the passage of the universal health care law?)

Rappler earlier debunked a related claim that wrongly quoted Hontiveros as saying OFWs should be charged a higher PhilHealth rate.

It is also not the first time Rappler debunked a false claim from YouTube channel Its JL. In August 2019, it wrongly said that Aquino is responsible for the possible release of Antonio Sanchez, convicted murderer-rapist and ex-mayor of Calauan, Laguna. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

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